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Structural change and economic development in the Islamic Middle East 700–1500: Population levels and property rights

Maya Shatzmiller

Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 2022, vol. 69, issue 1, 4-22

Abstract: Economic historians have recently treated Islamic institutions as “growth retarding,” “averse to change,” “path dependent,” “lacking creative destruction” and “extractive” rather than “inclusive” and blamed their failure to change for the underdevelopment of the Middle East. This paper argues for a different approach to Islamic institutions which implies that they boosted economic growth. The paper explores changes in economic structures, a transition in population levels from high to low and a transition to individual property rights and provides economic indicators of growth. Articulated via Islamic law, legally sanctioned birth control and women's property rights were instrumental in assuring low fertility rates and equitable and well‐distributed income in the population. The paper concludes theoretically and empirically that Islamic institutions were innovative, amenable to change and efficient.

Date: 2022
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https://doi.org/10.1111/sjpe.12277

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Scottish Journal of Political Economy is currently edited by Tim Barmby, Andrew Hughes-Hallett and Campbell Leith

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